Fun and planet-friendly ideas

Climate Change Challenge

Written by Ligia Baracat, Lucy Townsend and Will Daunt from the Climate Week team

The inaugural Climate Week saw the UK’s best efforts to combat climate change showcased on a previously unseen scale. Running from the 21 to 27 March, the week shone a spotlight on the thousands of positive steps already being taken in workplaces and communities across Britain, hoping to inspire millions more people to start taking action to cut their emissions.
It was supported by the Prime Minister and leading figures such as Al Gore and Kofi Annan, as well as celebrities like Paul McCartney, Lily Cole and Michael Palin. Over 3,000 events showcased the big and small ideas across the country: Manchester United held a staff bike ride, the Arcola Theatre in Hackney taught children how to make hydrogen powered cars, and stars such as Lily Cole and Gemma Arterton showed how fashion can be part of the solution to climate change by modelling a low carbon designer Climate Week T-shirt.


One of the flagship events was the Climate Week Challenge, a national environmental competition that kick-started the week. Over 130,000 school children and office workers signed up to take part, forming teams of four or six coming up with environmental ideas that would both save the planet and save money. At 2pm pens were put down, and winning ideas from each organisation were submitted to Climate Week. The host of innovative ideas and interpretations which came in were then judged by a panel of celebrities: adventurer Ben Fogle, singer Eliza Doolittle, footballer Gary Neville, singer KT Tunstall, TV presenter Liz Bonnin, singer Kate Nash, Karen Lawrence from The Energy Saving Trust and Cath Senior from The Met Office. The winners of each of the six school categories, ranging from nursery through to sixth form were announced on Monday 4 April.

The level of entry which came in was staggering. Maryburgh Primary School in Rossshire, Scotland, who won the Keystage 1 category, looked at climate change and how it currently affects those around the world. Recently awarded their second Green Flag award, the pupils decided to look at the imbalance created by climate change which results in some regions being devastated by violent floods whilst others are plagued with ongoing drought. From this they came up with the idea of a ‘flood prevention pipe’, whereby a pipe would circle the world, gathering water from flood prone areas, filtering and distributing water to those countries most in need. Teacher Murial Thomson is very proud of them and has announced that they are over the moon to have won.


Other pupils looked at how climate change can be taught in a fun and engaging way. The winners of Keystage 2 from All Hallows School in Shepton Mallet, Somerset wanted to teach the whole family how to be greener and how to save money by greening up a well loved boardgame: Greenopoly. The pupils stated that it would be made entirely with recycled materials and one of the group members, Olly Eaton said: “It would be great to really make the game as I think it would be fun as well as full of facts and tips.” The children - Lucy Pughe-Morgan, Amber Rees-Jones, Olly Eaton, Louis Greensmith and Max Dunford - are now eagerly looking for an investor so that they can produce the game and take it to market.

Pupils at Pool Business and Enterprise Collage in Redruth, Cornwall also came up with a creative and innovative idea: The Fidgit. The gadget would convert the energy created by kids’ fidgeting into electricity, which could then recharge devices via a built-in USB port. The Fidget would come in different shapes for boys and girls, and would spin and bounce to encourage even more electricity generation. What’s more, by being made entirely from recycled materials, the device would be as green as the energy it creates. Rebekah Reeve spoke for her group saying: ‘”We didn’t want to create something that was ordinary or boring, we wanted something that was interesting, fun, something to play that was entertaining and would help save the planet at the same time. To think that our idea has been chosen makes us feel very proud of the work that we did, it’s amazing!” Teacher, Chris Challis, commented that the Climate Week Challenge is “a fantastic event. It is so important to get young people involved as it is them that can make a difference. We need young people to take an interest and find new ways of doing things that are less harmful.”


Science teacher, Ian Smallwood, at Fulbrook School in New Hall, Surrey also believes that: “It is essential that the next generation look at ways of producing energy as the methods we use at present are limited and obviously have long-term negative side effects. It is young people like this fantastic team which can and will provide solutions for the coming generations.” His sixth formers came up with the wacky, yet profit making idea to convert human faeces into fuel. They stated that they were interested in the science behind this project and the untapped potential of sewage. The group even have a strap line ready for when their idea becomes reality: Future fuel from faeces: the untapped potential of sewage.

The Keystage 4 winners from Alsager School, in Stoke-on-Trent also looked at an alternative method of creating energy, this time by harnessing the power of the wind. Ellie, Abie, Georgia and Ben wanted specialised kites attached to generators to be sent into the jet stream, capturing energy created by the high speed winds that occur at high altitudes. Ellie, from the winning team said: “The climate week challenge was a completely different and new experience for us and we are really excited having got through to the national competition. We decided to utilise the power of the jet stream as it is abundant and can be benefit all people and the environment.” Their teacher Andy McFadden has described the Climate Week Challenge as “an engaging and useful way for our pupils to continue learning about the damaging effects climate change is having on our planet and also an excellent opportunity to think creatively about potential solutions to the our own and future generations problems.”

If you are interested in getting involved, whether this be putting on an event, or participating in the 2012 Climate Week Challenge, you can contact us now to ensure that 2012 Climate Week is bigger and better than ever.